Category Archives: Background

Inside the CIA’s secret Kabul base, burned out and abandoned in haste

Source: The Guardian

The cars, minibuses and armoured vehicles that the CIA used to run its shadow war in Afghanistan had been lined up and incinerated beyond identification before the Americans left. Below their ashy grey remains, pools of molten metal had solidified into permanent shiny puddles as the blaze cooled.

The faux Afghan village where they trained paramilitary forces linked to some of the worst human rights abuses of the war had been brought down on itself. Only a high concrete wall still loomed over the crumpled piles of mud and beams, once used to practise for the widely hated night raids on civilian homes.

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We Asked Russia’s 1980s Afghan War Vets To Judge The U.S. Exit. Here’s What They Said

Source: NPR

MOSCOW — It’s been more than a month since the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, and Sergei Opalev is still trying to wrap his head around the chaotic end to America’s 20-year war.

It’s not the defeat that confounds him — he understands that part all too well. Opalev served as a captain in the Soviet armyas it was gradually humbled by Afghan mujahedeen fighters during a decade of war in the 1980s.

The problem, he says, is how U.S. forces left.

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‘Left to the devils’: How red tape and paperwork errors betrayed America’s Afghan allies

Source: Task&Purpose

One digit on a single piece of paper separated Zee and his family from an uncertain fate. A month ago, the former Afghan interpreter escaped Kandahar, Afghanistan where the Taliban seized his home. They were looking for him, according to his brother who later sent him a video of several men loitering around his backyard. Zee dressed his family in worn and dirty clothes, hoping to disguise them as beggars, then boarded a bus with 50 other escapees at midnight. The bus headed toward Kabul and stopped six or seven times at Taliban checkpoints along the way. Zee said that armed men entered the bus and questioned the occupants: “What do you do? What was your job?” He sunk back into the seat with his family, hoping the disguises helped. No one questioned them.

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How Kabul became an evacuation bottleneck and a prime terror target: The Last 96

Source: Fox News

A new series “Fox News Digital Originals” analyses the reasons behind the fall of Kabul and the last days before the evacuation mission this year. It contains some nuanced information but should be read with a grain of salt considering the source.

Mick Mulroy, a former senior Defense Department official in the Trump administration who now thinks it was a mistake to negotiate with the Taliban, and other experts give their analyses on why the Afghan National Army was not able to defend the country against the Taliban.

Continue reading How Kabul became an evacuation bottleneck and a prime terror target: The Last 96

‘Muslims were so demonized’: Mehdi Hasan, Zainab Johnson, Keith Ellison and more on 9/11’s aftermath

Source: Guardian

Twenty years ago, 19 men flew commercial planes into New York’s Twin Towers and the Pentagon in Washington DC. A total of 2,977 people died and several thousand others were injured. The world watched as the United States was attacked on its own soil by hijackers with the singular mission of ending human life.

In addition to planes, the terrorists, who claimed to be acting in the name of Islam, hijacked the religion of more than 1.8 billion people.

Muslim Americans endured years of racism at best, and hate-filled violence at worst. Mainstream political pundits lambasted Islam and its followers. Many women permanently removed their hijabs in the hope of evading domestic terrorism at the hands of ignorant strangers. Muslim communities were subjected to government surveillance in their mosques, homes, schools and places of work.

Here, Muslim Americans in the arts, politics, healthcare, education and the media speak about life over the last two decades and the permanent repercussions of that single moment.

Read the full article (Guardian)

Death Of An Afghan Icon: The Assassination Of Ahmad Shah Massoud

Two days before 9/11, an Al-Qaeda suicide squad posing as journalists sat down for an interview with Ahmad Shah Massoud, the last major commander resisting the jihadist group’s Taliban allies in northern Afghanistan.

Before he could answer a question, they detonated explosives that investigators said later had been cunningly disguised in their camera equipment.

Twenty years on, Massoud’s assassination and the September 11 attacks on the United States are for many Afghans the twin cataclysms that started yet another era of uncertainty and bloodshed — and which continue to reverberate following the Taliban’s return.

Read full article (International Business Times)

A profile of Ahmad Shah Massoud can be found on Wikipedia.

Chaos and confusion: The frenzied final hours of the Afghan government

The Taliban have announced a new government from Kabul, 20 years after they were driven from power.

For a generation that grew up with education, international investment and hope in a democratic future, reading that line must feel scarcely believable.

So how did the previous administration fall so quickly? The Taliban went from taking control of their first major city to arriving at the gates of Kabul in just 10 days.

Read full article (BBC)

Eavesdropping on the Taliban

A US Air Force linguist gives an account of his reconnaissance missions aboard an Air Force Special Operations Command aircraft over Afghanistan.

He writes:

“Ten years after my last deployment, and after 20 years of combat with the world’s richest, most advanced military, the Taliban has reclaimed Afghanistan. Whatever delusions existed about whether this would happen or how long it might take have been dispatched as efficiently as the Afghan security forces were by the Taliban over a single week.”

Read full article (The Atlantic)